We all know that a dog is a man’s best friend and that you want to make sure that your pet is happy and healthy at all times. Most dogs are relatively good at conveying their needs.
For instance you will find that he is very quick to tell you when he is hungry, thirsty, excited, sad, needing a walk or feeling poorly but expressing that he is struggling with his hearing will be a lot more difficult.
A lack of hearing is actually much more common than you may at first think. In the US approximately five to ten percent of all dogs are thought to be deaf. Deafness in pooches does not discriminate and you could find it affecting your new puppy or the old family dog that you have had for more than a decade.
If you have concerns about whether or not your dog is deaf you will probably constantly be analysing his behaviour and working out whether it is signs and symptoms of deafness or a happy hearing dog. So, to help save you some time we have compiled a list of the most common symptoms of deafness in dogs.
Unresponsive to everyday sounds like The Postman- Often one of the first signs of deafness in dogs is that they become unresponsive to everyday sounds. You may have noticed that the postman’s best friend who is usually wagging his tail and waiting excitedly from the moment that he hears the van door shut suddenly shows no interest in him.
On the other hand, if the dog is a new addition to the family, you may have assumed that he is just not very interested in the wider world and keeps himself to himself, but this is an important symptom to keep an eye on. A good way of testing whether or not the dog is being responsive to everyday sounds is by jangling your keys and seeing if he responds or seems completely unaware of the sound.
Sudden disobedience- All new puppies have a tendency to misbehave but no one knows your dog like you do, and if he is a well-established member of your family you may have noticed that he has become more disobedient recently.
Although this symptom of deafness can be very frustrating to deal with, it is important to recognise that what you thought may be naughtiness could actually be a sign that your dog is struggling to hear. Going deaf can be a very confusing process for a dog and therefore this confusion and frustration can manifest itself and be displayed as disobedience.
Ignoring commands- you might have noticed that your dog has been ignoring you more than normal recently. For instance, he may have stopped responding to commands or even his own name. you may have found that you have shouted to tell him that it is time for a walk and rather than finding him excitedly sprinting to the back door you have had to go and pat him on the head or show him his leash before he has followed.
Becoming easily startled- has your dog seemed more anxious and on edge recently? Perhaps he has been really easily startled by people approaching him, touch and new surroundings. This could be because he is unable to hear and so he is less aware of his surroundings.
Excessive barking- maybe your once quiet, calm, and collected four-legged friend has become much more disruptive, barking constantly. This could be because animals regulate their own voices based around their hearing so in turn a deaf dog is a loud dog. He may be completely unaware of how loud he is being much like how people are prone to talk very loudly when they have their headphones on.
Shaking or tilting its head- Again this is a common sign of deafness in dogs and a common reaction to the confusion caused by deafness. Shaking his head could also be his way of trying to regain hearing. It is not uncommon for dogs to shake when they are distressed, for instance, if you have ever had a dog who is scared of fireworks you may have noticed him shaking throughout any local display.
Therefore, depending on the way in which the dog is shaking it could be for numerous reasons such as confusion, distress or simply trying to reset his hearing but all of these reasons can still point towards deafness.
Changes in sleep- In many cases a dogs natural response to hearing loss may be to become more withdrawn and sleep more. The main reason for this is actually very well thought out, it is a way of being more cautious.
Dogs are very intelligent and therefore he will more than likely be aware of his new condition and will have realised that he is now less aware of his surroundings and more vulnerable. Sleeping more is most common in the early stages of being deaf as at this point the dog is also overwhelmed and not yet used to the lack of sound. This symptom may subside once the dog has been deaf for a while.
If you are worried that your dog is deaf, or he is displaying any of the above symptoms the first thing to do is to take him to see your veterinary provider. The Vet will discuss the dog’s symptoms with you, and he will then more than likely arrange a Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) test. This test works by placing electrodes on the dog’s head and then sending a low level of stimulus via earpieces.
Although this might sound alarming it is a simple test which gives the vets the best opportunity to figure out how well your dog is hearing. It achieves this by detecting electrical activity in the cochlea and checking out the auditory routes within the pups brain.
Overall, try not to be too concerned as these symptoms could also be down to much simpler things which could be much more treatable, but it is always better to be safe than sorry and to get your furry friend checked out.